Black Friday Cyber Monday Checklist For Small To Medium Ecommerce Brands

Black Friday Cyber Monday Checklist For Small To Medium Ecommerce Brands

Gotta Catch ‘em All!

Rise & Shine! Black Friday Cyber Monday is almost here and this time it will be entirely different to previous years. There’s a lot of ‘brace yourself & hope for the best’ talks that you would need to give your marketing team (and maybe even yourself) as COVID-19 leads to growing store closures and a major shift in consumer purchases online. 

If your business has suffered this year financially, here is a golden opportunity to recover.

We’ve put together a ‘tried-and-tested’ 13 point checklist to help you get the most from BFCM that eCommerce businesses of any size could follow.

The Planning Stage

1. Check your stock levels

There is nothing worse than realising a week before BFCM that you don’t have enough stock to make the most of the sale. Let’s be real – a lot of things can go wrong closer to BFCM but the least you can do is have your stocks ready to head out when the time comes. 

Liaise with your suppliers at least 2-3 months in advance. Having healthy stock doesn’t mean you need to have all 1000+ of your products stocked up (that’s not even practical). Look at your yearly data and assess which top 10 SKUs bring you the most revenue. These are your cash cows, and chances are that the popular blue sweater you keep selling every month for $800 a unit is exactly what people are likely to buy during BFCM. However, it is also an opportunity to clear your discontinuing stock and make way for the new season.

If you’re not sure which products sell the best for you, check your Shopify or Woocommerce reports and you will be able to see what your ‘magic’ products are.

2. Consider product trends post-pandemic

While it is important to focus on your ‘all-time’ cash cows, it is equally useful to think about which of your products have come into the limelight since the first and second waves of the pandemic and how you can promote these items.

3. Pick Your channels wisely

If you have a small to medium budget to play with, picking your strongest channels would be a great starting point. 

Our top picks would be;

4. Think about mobile micro-moments

There’s this beautiful theory in digital that people are increasingly turning towards mobile to ‘know something, to learn something, to find something or even buy something.’ Well, this is not just a theory anymore as 80% of purchases tend to take place on a mobile device rather than a desktop device, especially during peak sales periods.

You’re speeding into BFCM but have you thought about your website’s mobile experience? Have you looked at how easy it is for someone to navigate and checkout on your website using a mobile device? Have you checked your ads on a mobile device? If you haven’t, it’s about time you do because no matter how well you plan your other marketing elements, this is one crucial element that may cost you if you don’t implement it effectively.

5. Monitor your competition

Let’s face it- there’s a lot you can learn from your competitors. I’ll tell you a little hack of the easiest and fastest way to keep track of what your competitors are doing- start subscribing to their newsletters. You might find that they currently do a better job than you in some areas but that’s okay, take the inspiration, put your heads together and come back with something stronger.

Don’t get too carried away though. Trying to be too much like what your competitors are doing can mean you sway away from what your brand is all about. Just because they offer 80% off, that doesn’t mean that you can afford to do it too. But what you can do is draw inspiration from them and learn from what you see.

Black Friday Cyber Monday Advertising

6. Plan your BFCM Offer

Review all of your products and margins and see what is the best discount you can offer to your customers without hurting your profitability too much. Is it a 20% off, a 50% off or a 80% off? Whatever you pick, make sure it aligns with your margins. 

Remember, the higher the discount, the stronger you are in the market against competitors. A little bit of a loss now is marginally okay as long as you are trying to turn your seasonal shoppers into year-round loyal customers.

A popular strategy most of my clients use is to heavily discount that one item which sells like hot cakes during a non-salesy month. This is bait. When someone clicks on this product ad and lands on your website, chances are they will pick up something else along the way.

Take bedding as an example, people might click on an ad that advertises a 60% off feathery soft pillows but chances are they may need new, cool pillow covers to go with it right? So the pillow was bait to get people to purchase the cool pillow covers! See what I did there?

Think about your Brand name. Does putting your products on an 80% off sale resonate well with your ‘premium’ Brand name? Probably not. This is why it’s important to mix and match. Have a mix of high end and low-end discounts so your Brand’s premium persona is not compromised.

The Implementation Stage

Think about your Brand name. Does putting your products on an 80% off sale resonate well with your ‘premium’ Brand name? Probably not. This is why it’s important to mix and match. Have a mix of high end and low-end discounts so your Brand’s premium persona is not compromised.

7. Pay attention to your website

Businesses spend so much time working on getting their online advertising right that they often forget that people ultimately visit their website to make that final purchase call (are you one of them?)

Make sure you have the right discounts in place for each product. There is nothing worse than showing people an ad for 40% off but only giving them 10% off when they get to the checkout. That is just going to crank up your shopping cart abandonment rate and get you a bad reputation.

When the sale starts, make sure you have a hero banner on your website right on top that carries through to product pages. Here is how people who visit your website directly or organically will know you have a BFCM sale going on. Ideally the banner needs to have your discount, your promo code, and the fact that you offer free shipping (if you are) – that is the magic combo and trust me, this works amazingly well.

Also think about hosting your best sellers at the bottom of your website (home page). Keep it to a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5. Too much of something isn’t always a good thing!

8. The power of pre-sales

Now here’s something that many businesses don’t do but which can work wonders for you. 5 – 7 days before Black Friday starts, crank up your online advertising. Run VIP Pre-sales ads, build a custom landing page that gets people to subscribe to your newsletter list and open up the sale to these guys one day before the actual BFCM sale starts.

Here is a magic ad that has worked for my clients.

Black Friday Cyber Monday Ads

You’re going to get into the market early and if nothing else, you will end up with a solid customer database you can use for later on.

Black Friday Cyber Monday tips
Black Friday Cyber Monday tips 2020

9. Get your email marketing right

Did you know that during BFCM, the highest conversion rates usually come from EDMs? That is why you need to get onto this early on.

You already have a beautiful customer database, why not put it to good use rather than keeping it idle? Create the buzz, create the hype – people are excited! So take advantage of that excitement. During the weeks leading up to BFCM, go aggressive with your email marketing but don’t bombard their inbox, keep it balanced.

Especially reach out to those visitors who have abandoned their shopping cart on your site in the last 3-6 months. They are your warm audience. Remind them of your brand/product value and get them excited to finish what they started.

10. Plan Mobile-Friendly ads during BFCM

The first thing that should catch someone’s eye should be your discount. So the real question is – where should you place your discount on an ad? Here’s the deal. If it’s a Google Ad, try to place your ad in Headline 1. If it’s a social ad, make sure the discount is clear as day visually.

11. Create a sense of urgency

Use countdown timers – this is one true hidden feature of a Google Ad that many advertisers fail to put into use. For one of my clients, I tested a countdown sale ad against a normal sale ad during BFCM 2019. At the end of BFCM, when I sat down to compare the two, 85% of revenue had come in from that countdown ad.

Creating the hype (sale ends in 3 days, sale ends in 2 days, sale ends in 1 hour) creates that sense of urgency (got to put some psychological marketing into practice – eh?)

12. Leverage the power of shopping ads

Shopping ads on Google eat up 62% of click share of text ads. This is why you need to invest more money on your shopping campaigns. Remember, people like to see before they buy.

Also, have your ads running 24/7 during the sale. Take off any ad scheduling you may have so you reach people when they are hungry to buy.

Black Friday Cyber Monday Tips

13. Don’t Forget Cyber Monday

This is kind of an important one, so pay close attention. Cyber Monday comes just after Black Friday. Because Black Friday usually ends on a Sunday, most businesses do one sale ad that aims to cover both Black Friday & Cyber Monday.

Here is where you can be different. During the planning stage, create two sets of ads: one set for Black Friday & another set for Cyber Monday. When Black Friday ads go offline, switch on your Cyber Monday ads. When planned and executed right, this works wonders. That just shows your customers and competitors you were prepared plus it will help you analyse who your last-minute shoppers were.

Also, be more generic. Use ‘24 Hour Sale’ instead of ‘Cyber Monday Sale’ – for whatever reason the former works well.

Black Friday Cyber Monday Tips

I know I said 13 point checklist but hey – here is a bonus one as a reward for the beautiful work you are doing so far.

Once Black Friday Cyber Monday ends, don’t just forget your customer database. As much as revenue counts, BFCM was a period where you accumulated tonnes of customer data. Put that into good use. Retarget them, turn them from seasonal shoppers to loyal customers, send them EDMs in moderation, and give them exclusive deals. And don’t forget to use social media to keep them engaged.

What to Expect

  1. If you’re seeing a sharp drop in revenue during the weeks leading up to BFCM, don’t get disheartened. That is 100% normal. People are just putting off their purchases temporarily until they can get a better deal for it.
  2. You will see that during the sale, your average cart value drops but your conversion rate increases. Again 100% normal!
  3. You won’t make as much sales on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday but you should still focus your efforts into Cyber Monday for those last minute sales.
  4. Tight competition – remember, you’re not the only one playing the BFCM game. So watch and act! Usually the cost per acquisition will also rise (but can vary depending on the level of competition and the volume of purchases)
  5. Surge in revenue towards the end of the sale – here is where creating a sense of urgency last minute helps. When people are aware that the sale ends soon, they get excited and nervous thinking they will miss out. 

That’s it! – Here’s to a different and interesting Black Friday Cyber Monday. Start planning now and if you have already started, check and make sure you ticked all the boxes you are supposed to. If you’ve ticked them all off, well, all you have to do is grab your popcorn and watch what unfolds.

SearchMax Strategy Consultation
Ecommerce Advertising